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Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) has called for all concession or mineral development agreements awarded to concession companies operating in the country to be reviewed.

LEITI was created in 2009 by an Act of the 52nd National Legislature to ensure transparency in the extractive sector as well as to enable government and concession companies report what they received or pay to the affected communities.

Speaking on Thursday with Internews Women Journalist Follows in Monrovia, LEITI Deputy Head of Secretariat, Myer W. Saye alleged that 90 percent of concession reports on Liberia lacks basic step as many concession companies did not follow or meet all the criteria to properly operate in the country.

He maintained that there are mixed steps in awarding of concessions in Liberia as many people failed to go through the proper channel or means, adding that the processes leading to concession agreements must be transparent.

According to Saye, corruption plays a major role in the extractive industry. He indicated that too often, people hide behind tainted access therefore, reviewing these agreements is necessary as it will bring people to brook.

LEITI Deputy Secretariat further emphasized that most concession agreements awarded to concession companies are updated and needs to be reviewed, pointing direct figures at AreclorMittal Liberia, saying “the company is up for reviewing and should be reviewed.”

Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson sometimes this year alleged ArcelorMittal was illegally operating in the country and there is a need to review the concession agreement surrounding the company’s operations in Liberia.

Saye explained that of the over 72 concession companies in Liberia, only 40 companies reported for 2014 and 2015 fiscal year which is disappointing. He used the occasion to call on Liberian citizens to blow whistle on the issue regarding the revision of concession companies operating in the country as the October 10 elections gets underway.

Saye further revealed that many people do not understand a concession agreement; therefore the institution has to bridge the information gap to acknowledge Liberians on the issues.

He revealed that the institution is facing financial constrains due to alleged budgetary shortfalls for the last four years, thus resulting to the institution to fully depend on donors for support, something that weakens its functions.

Saye also maintained that the country has made meaningful progress in the validation report of the extractive industry on the African continent, but Liberians owning the LEITI process and what it stands for is a problem because most politicians think they are checking on them”.

LEITI is a global practice to bringing people from diverse backgrounds including civil society organizations, youth and women groups among others. LEITI has more or less brought transparency to the extractive sector, thus enabling people in the industry to account for illegal operations if there is any, and to as well ensure that concession companies meet up with obligations to government and communities they operate.

By: R. Joyclyn Wea

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